How to Gain Control of Your Emotions
It’s time to get those emotions in check. It sounds easier said than done, right? Don’t fret because we’re going to chat a little bit about James Gross’ Emotion Regulation Model and add a dash of dialectal behavioral therapy while we’re at it 😉
Identify the Activating Event
The activating event can happen within us as an internal factor or within our environments as external factors. When I say internal factors, these things can be memories, dreams, thoughts. Then from an external standpoint, examples include somebody bringing us a present or us experiencing traffic.
Whew chile…you know how traffic can get.
From this standpoint, you’re pretty much evaluating how you’re thinking about certain things. What are your thoughts about yourself? What are you thinking in that moment? What are the thoughts that are caused by that activating event?
“I feel dumb. Shoot I shouldn’t have ever done that. That person really doesn’t even like me like that. Yeah, bruh I’m ‘bout to get fired.”
Dedicate Your Attention & Modify Accordingly
Not everything requires a response or reaction but rather than avoiding the presenting issue as a whole, figure out which part of the scenario you would like to dedicate your attention to.
We have to come at this from a “sober-minded” angle by using what is known as the wise mind. The wise mind is the incorporation of your rational mindset versus your emotional mindset. The rational point of view wants the facts. What’s true? What is something that is stable and will never change based upon what is right in front of me? And of course, our emotions, focus on what we are feeling inside. How are you kind of feeling about a certain situation?
The ultimate goal is to look at things from a non-judgmental and a non-biased standpoint. We can’t negate the facts and we can’t negate our emotions so it’s important to come to a place of compromise (ie. the wise mind). Start to reframe the way that we look at things that way we can have clarity and peace and understanding.
When those thoughts start to take off, that’s when you need to stop, re-evaluate and weigh out how you can start thinking about things from a different perspective and pinpoint which coping skills that we can incorporate. Here, I find it best to apply the wise mind that is commonly used in dialectical behavioral therapy.
Take Note of Automatic Responses
Once we gain that new knowledge from the activating event and how it affects our thoughts that’s when we start exploring our automatic responses, which are our bodily changes.
This can happen in a number of ways because it’s different for everybody. Using anxiety as an example, some people have sweaty palms; sweaty brows; their body starts tensing up, or it’s hard for them to breathe. Your body temperature may raise or your stomach may begin to clench up when you’re enraged or upset. Things like that.
What happens with certain feelings occur and they are manifested within your body?
#TransparencyMoment If someone starts talking out the side of their mouth to me, automatically you’re going to see it all over my face. I can’t hide my facial reaction, as I’m pretty sure a lot of you guys can feel me on that as well. And with the automatic response, we also need to look at our behaviors.
You may be one to kind of slouch down into your chair, maybe sit up even more.
Or after a rough day, you start going to either a happy hour or you kind of pick up that bottle and start drinking more. It’s different for everybody.
And once again: I have to hit you with the STOP button because at this point it’s important to take another step back to re-evaluate how your particular activating event has affected you. We’ve already talked about how it affects our thoughts and how that’s manifested automatically in our physical body. We now have to decide what action we need to take in order to have a more positive outcome.
Because obviously, I’m feeling some type of way, both physically and emotionally. So what can I do to make things a little bit better for not only myself but my environment as well? And granted I know sometimes the most positive or effective outcome is something that you straight up may not want to do. There are times when being the bigger person just won’t cut it.
Maybe your ex just tried to slide in your DMs in your inbox and your initial reaction is to send them a full-blown dissertation. Before you hit that ‘send’ button you need to decide whether or not you’re in the emotional space to even engage in a conversation. Do you need to take a walk? Flip the phone over, disengage from the world watch TV, maybe read a book, kind of listen to some audio.
Whatever your situation may maybe, just fill it in the blank. The ultimate goal is to get you to choose something that is most effective for what you’re experiencing. Doing something that is going to get you from that place of acute distress or discomfort and make you choose a more positive and beneficial route.